View Full Version : Kenpo, what do you guys think??????

08-10-2000, 08:00 AM
Ive been studying kenpo for awhile years now, and ive been doing martal arts since age 6, thanx to my great brother,
and im starting to wonder how effective it is, any comments will be great, thanx everyone
Keith (GrassHopper)

08-10-2000, 08:35 AM
Well, no matter what MA ya do, if you have a good attitude, a good teacher, and use a good dose of periodical reasoning throughout your practise- any MA is good.

If your style and practise follows this regard, then bravo! you are doing good.

And don't sweat not getting into fights. If a person can go through their youth and most of their adult life not going through a physical altercation...cudos! That is more of a MAN than those that for some reason (usually two good reasons betwen the legs) feel the need to define themselves by battlescars and quote/unquote asskickings.

Although I realise and fully understand the urge of a student to 'battle test' their MA ability in the 'real world'. Hopefully with increased MA ability comes an increase in personal discipline and understanding that it sure as hell is HARDER to walk away than to duke it out.

Wow, I think I used the soap box real good this time.

08-14-2000, 10:42 PM
JKD - basically, what have you learned in kenpo? Educate me. I've heard it's basically fast hard striking, and also targets pressure points. Is that about right?

08-14-2000, 10:55 PM
Yeah, its mostly pressure points and quick tecneques, it seems pretty good to me, ive been doing jkd and various kung fu's my whole like and i started kenpo class's not too long ago, and i was just wondering how some other martal artists felt about the style.
Keith, (GrassHopper)

MonkeySlap Too
08-15-2000, 12:31 AM
What school or style of Kenpo is it?

08-15-2000, 12:56 AM
its tracy kenpo, from white to black, than parker from black to 10th degree.

"Crosstraining is the key"
~Sifu Rick Tucci~

MonkeySlap Too
08-15-2000, 03:44 AM
I'm not a big fan, but I have known some pretty tough guys who practice it.

If your teacher is good, you'll get a lot of knowledge in regards to street awareness and conflict resoloution.

However, these American Kenpo styles are built around the Arthur Murray dance studio model. You give your customer something new every class so you feel good and keep paying for lessons. The result is a thousand techniques to stop a punch.

I have seen Kenpo guys fight in NHB and I've never seen them pull of a 'Kenpo' technique -just kickboxing...

I don't really want to diss it completely, but I can't say it would be my first choice either. If you like it, thats great.

08-15-2000, 07:33 AM
My 2 cents:

When I was only 9, my mother put me in Kenpo (the Ed Parker Kenpo). We lived in California. I got in a couple of fights in school and the Kenpo did nothing to help me. It was not natural for me and it got in the way of my natural insticts and movements. In all fairness, I was only 9 and I was just beginning. I did not study Kenpo enough to earn a brown or black belt.

Many say that Kenpo is the same as Kempo. I study Ryukyu Kempo now, and they don't really seem to be the same; although, the name is the same.
My Kempo is closer to Wing Chun, I think, with some Dim Mak (called Kyusho Jitsu)thrown in and some JuJitsu grappling. Anyway...

If you stick with Kenpo, there is a good chance it will serve you well. If it feels natural to you, then you will probably do well in it.

I did see in one UFC video a Kenpo fighter knocked down a 700lbs Sumo wrestler with one hit. He puched him in the side of the head. That was pretty stunning to see!

In summary, I wasn't impressed with Ed Parker Kenpo and I got my butt kicked...but it might work for you.

"There is only ONE martial art."

[This message has been edited by totallyfrozen (edited 08-15-2000).]

[This message has been edited by totallyfrozen (edited 08-18-2000).]

08-23-2000, 08:51 AM
I started in Kenpo when I was 5 yrs old Kenpo is very philisohical. Peace is held in high regard. First one should use escaping techniques, then block, then hit back. In my school people were praised for blocking and avoiding fights rather than engaging in them. It's a good style and it made me a great tournament fighter, but when it came to fighting (I moved to an area where I was a minority) my conditioning to avoid fighting at all costs got right in the way of all the punches and kicks that I had develeoped. I could work magic with my fighting, but only in a friendly situation. When I couldn't block or escape, I got pounded.

08-26-2000, 07:30 AM
Hey that sounds a lot like san soo. Only san soo works.

08-26-2000, 11:05 AM
You're right! It is a lot like san soo. When Ed Parker put the system together he did so with the assistance of San Francisco based kung fu instr. James Wing Woo. Even though Kenpo had, I repeat "had" some ties with Mitose Kempo in the 1950's, it was completely rehashed and shares less than 10% of the original Japanese style Kempo. Kenpo is actually a system rather than an art. The techniques are taught merely as ideas of motion. More important than the technique/idea itself (the 'how') are the natural reasons why the technique is funtional (the 'why"). There were originally more than 600 techniques in the system, but several techniques relied on the exact same principle. Parker deleted repetative techniques and placed emphasis on the principle instead of the technique itself.
The objective is to understand the functions, which are governed by laws of motion, and become a free thinker...learn new habits and create your own spontaneous techniqes as a matter of natural reaction. Those of you who have experience in kenpo, but couldn't make it work, were only in the beginning stages. You're not supposed to try to make the original techniques work (the last thing anyone can do in a fight is recall what was taught in class last week). American Kenpo still has the name 'karate' on its patch to distinguish it as a form of MA, but today's Kenpo is actually a soft, circular, Chinese (in origin) style.

[This message has been edited by kenpoman (edited 08-28-2000).]

MonkeySlap Too
08-28-2000, 03:31 AM
The American 'Kenpo' styles are not Chinese in origin. They have borrowed from Pai Lum and a little from San Soo, but they really owe thier creation to Ed Parker.

Ed Parker desreves a lot of credit for covering a lot of ground that was hard to get if you where white. His imagination was good, and he applied an engineers sensability to structuring his art.

But it is NOT a CMA. But that is not a bad thing. Just call a thing what it is.

08-28-2000, 03:48 AM
You're right. kenpo is not CMA, but todays kenpo did a little more than 'borrow' from other systems. When Ed Parker formed the IKKA he did so after meeting up with James Wing Woo...who played a big, big part in the formation of the American Kenpo forms and techniques. Even Jimmy Lee stayed at his house during this time (the system being built) Parker openly shared this info in his books and at seminars. This was a big deal in the kenpo community at the time because the practitioners had a choice...either learn the new material or go elsewhere. Many left. Kenpo today is in a constant state of growth, but James Wing Woo/Jimmy Lee (kung Fu) played a key role in the formation of forms and techniques. Granted a number of changes have been made since then (deletions/shortcuts), but 40 years ago today's system was CMA.
There are very few who were actually there, but those who were tell the story at this link:

Pay close attention to the last paragraph.

[This message has been edited by kenpoman (edited 08-28-2000).]

MonkeySlap Too
08-28-2000, 05:24 AM
Granted, Ed Parker may have absorbed some material from CMA, but my position remains: He created his own thing. It may have borrowed from many arts but it is a distinct thing created by him (and perhaps his associates).

But it is not a CMA!!

Just because I took clases from Northwestern, does not make me a graduate of the school. I may have learned some valuable things. I may be really smart and can extrapolate from that and be very sucsessful, but I cannot claim to be a graduate because I have not taken all the other classes!

I have plenty of friends who have been long time Kenpo guys. They can point to thier success in defending thier lives with thier Kenpo. But they cannot point to anything in thier system being a CMA. (and spare me the 'circles' lecture - geez)

And really, most Chinese I know take offense to this. Use a Japanese word and then claim it's Chinese? WW2 wasn't so long ago in the minds of many Chinese I know.

But despite linguistic changes, Kenpo does not train like CMA, it does not build body structure like CMA, it isn't CMA!

(and a Kenpo guy claiming it is CMA doesn't count. He would not know by definition!)

But it is okay for what it is. What is wrong with saying Kenpo is a modern style developed from these other styles combined with Ed Parkers particular genius?

08-28-2000, 05:40 AM
JHWSS and anyone else. Please refrain from telling how great and undefeatable your particular style is. I'm a Sifu with two lifetimes of training ahead of me, not a begginer shopping for a school. Kempo works. I think the kempo I learned was more from Mitose. There was an octagon on the wall. Inside there was bamboo, pine tree, and plum blossoms. They were representative of escaping arts, blocking arts and fighting arts. Btw I've seen plenty of video clips of Kung fu San Soo and it's nothing impresive. It's nothing I haven't seen, and its not anything different from everything out there. I have a question..
What was Mitose's Kempo like? What is the difference between his philosophy and art and the modern one.

One more thing. I do kung fu. I learn thousands of applications and I don't ever think of the whole coreographed line when I'm fighting. It's always spontaneous and adhereing to solid princibles of motion. I don't have set patterns, just more options if something I do fails. When this happens I know so many techniques that even when I fail, I see oppontunity.

MonkeySlap Too
08-28-2000, 06:04 AM
Actually I had a chance top ask that question.

I also have 'mitose' Kenpo in my distant background (Truth be told, by way of Ed Parker, then Al Tracy, then James Mitose).

I had a chance to meet Thomas Young, and I asked him what James Mitose's Kenpo was like. His answer was: 'Very basic. We practiced Nai Hanchi, we practiced the makiwra, grabbing, escaping and waza.' He then explained that by Basic he meant there wasn't dozens and dozens of techniques and forms, but what they practiced had a lot of depth.

The school I went to seemed to be pairing down from the American Kenpo and becoming like that. But I do see a lot off depth in Kenpo. Particularly in the area of teaching awareness and street smarts.

While I never became a Kenpo guy, I do appreciate the things I learned in my short time with them. (My timing was excellent - another area where practicing the Mitose escaping arts helped my later Kung Fu training.)

08-28-2000, 06:41 AM
Monkeyslap, I really like your argument. THis is the start of something good. Keep in mind I don't take any opinions personally and truly appreciate your input. Regarding the Northwestern class analogy...let's say you earn your master's degree while at Northwestern. For your thesis you actually do all the work. Even though you do all the work, Northwestern gets to put their name on your diploma...because they provided the initial information that you relied on before you turned out your personalized finished product. Even as you go elsewhere and begin ph.D work, Northwestern will always be a part of your past...even when you grow beyond them.

MonkeySlap Too
08-28-2000, 09:09 PM
That is a great analogy for how Kenpo people that I have met train.

However, it also opens up another factor - what if you never got your degree? Or what if the schools you went to weren't very good or held back information? Then you had to extrapolate a great deal.

Generally speaking though - all MA offer up the possibilities of interpretation. I always tell my students that if they can't use what I teach them to figure out something I haven't, they are failing as students of the arts. Interpretations of material and practice methods can be different, yet still 'correct.'

The problem I see in the modern era is that sometimes these interpretations are developed by people who never fight for real. They are untested, untried methods developed by 'experts' who have never been blooded in combat. While the interpretation may have merit, it is not proven.

There is a fine line (I think) between creativity and fooling yourself in the martial arts.

(And yeah, I like the debate too. This is one of the few intelligent ones I've had here on KFO.)

08-29-2000, 12:46 AM
WOW, a kenpo discussion that I haven't had to chime in on to dispell ridiculous myths. What is this board comming to.

Looking at some of the rediculous things people were saying about kenpo was what made me post to this board in the first place. I've been traininng kenpo, first Chinese then American, for the last 18 years. I've had the pleasure of taking regular instruction and seminars from some of the most legendary people in the business. (Frank Trejo, Huck Planas, Jeff Speakman, Bob White, John Sepulveda, Brian Duffy, Steve LaBounty, Tom Kelly)

All I can say is, American Kenpo is just that. Calling it a Japanese martial art, or a CMA, or anyting else is false. It's just American Kenpo. It's its own system, it's own style, it's own art. Indeeed, Ed Parker started it Japanese with Mitose, then got back to it's Chinese roots with Chow, then it kept evolving to what can only be an "original" American martial art.

It's true that Ed Parker studied with allot of different people. But first, don't think that everyone that stayed in Ed Parker's home was a student, an instructor, or even a martial collaberator. Ed Parker Jr. was telling me that someone famous was there every week, and the vast majority of them never had anything to do with kenpo.

James Wing Woo did study with Ed Parker. But neither of them could be really said to have studied under the other. They were colleuges, and they bounced ideas off of each other. James Wing Woo was not the first, nor the last Chinese marital artist Ed Parker would train with. He was one of the many CMAs that helped American Kenpo grow.


MonkeySlap Too
08-29-2000, 01:02 AM
Hey JWT -
I'll wager you have more hands on experience in this arena than I (Since I am an observer, and you are a practitioner of Kenpo)

What is your take on other Kenpo groups like 'Shaolin Kenpo' - besides the obvious linguistic gymnastics involved in the name - are these guys similar in your opinion to the Parker school? I personally can't see it, but what are they? I can tell they are not CMA...

08-29-2000, 01:42 AM
I appologize for what I said. But look what type of discussion I have started. I really did'nt mean to affend you or anyone else I just wanted to spice up discussion and get some feed back and some knowledge..... Thanks. Have a good day.

[This message has been edited by JHWSS (edited 08-29-2000).]

MonkeySlap Too
08-29-2000, 02:03 AM
I really hope this discussion is not seen as offensive. It seems to be very polite and informative. Reasoned debate and alll that...

Also - I met a San Soo guy once and he had some neat tricks up his sleeve - including some really tricky set ups for punches. I wouldn't discount the style off of first observations....

08-29-2000, 03:08 AM
Oh and one more thing 8step, (which I do perform the 8steps daily), watching video clips of san soo and actually walking into a san soo school and working out with them is two diffrent things and if you have been trainng so long you should realize that! If you ever come across a san soo school, go in and work out with the upper belts, then maybe you will be a little impressed. Some nights after class I go home with bloody noses, and bruises all over the body from blocking an attack or just working out. Also I agree that sometimes it is the individual and not just the art. I will be looking forward to your reply from this one. And once again have a nice day.


[This message has been edited by JHWSS (edited 08-29-2000).]

08-29-2000, 07:05 AM

"what if the schools you went to weren't very good or held back information? Then you had to extrapolate a great deal".

To add to your argument...what if someone attended one semester at a community college, one at a state university, and one at Stanford? The student would more than likely brag on the Stanford education more than the others...Even though the student may rightfully do so, it would be the source of discrepancies, which very well may be the case in the minds of many kenpo students (whether the origins are more chinese, Japanese, or just plain old american).

Ralph Castro was a student of William Chow...not Parker's (even though parker did give him rank).

08-29-2000, 08:41 AM
JHWSS- Im sure the actual content is different from the showy parts that are good for demos. I'm sure its got good stuff, just look at Kathy Long. It's just not out anything that I havent seen before. That isn't to say that I'm good at everything I've seen. I just have had a lot of exposure to different kinds of techniques and mixtures thereof from my training in 8 Step and fighting other styles. Most of what people do are variations of the same thing anyway. It's been a long time since I've seen a move that I can't give the 8 Step name to describe it. Eg. She did small wrap on him and he countered with chuan dong. Translated. She did a joint lock that lowered him and he did a fireman's carry to counter.
blah blah me. me myself and I. blah blah.
Anyway more about kempo.
Did anybody else have the three part salute that corresponded with the plum flower, bamboo, and pine tree.
1.Palm together like praying. Avoidance, escaping
2.Middle, index finger, and thumb together with palms out. meaning blocking
3. Palm covering fist. Fighting. (although still covered with the peacefull palm)

08-29-2000, 07:49 PM
Shaolin Kenpo is pretty different than American Kenpo. It's actually based more on the animal styles, and has allot more twist and cross stances than we seem to have in American Kenpo. Because of good organization, and a great instructor, Shaolin Kenpo has really gained some popularity recently. We've had some Shaolin Kenpo guys come into our school and spar or take classes. They tend to use more verticle motion than we do (we try to stay at about the same level of height unless we need to bring a weapon really low) and they use a "half moon" step through instead of a strait or "off angle/45degree" step through. And their movements seem to be a bit bigger than ours. The combination techniques don't translate over, and they seem to look at our "point of origin" argument differently.
Hope that helps.

MonkeySlap Too
08-29-2000, 09:13 PM
Hey 8Step,
Run a search for 'Kosho Ryu Kenpo' or Bruce Juchnik. I think you'll find what you are looking for.

08-29-2000, 09:43 PM
yeah, all Ed Parker systems, Mitose schools, and allot of others do this type of salute. Some in conjuntion with a longer bow, others as a stand alone salute.
However, the order usually goes,
1.Triangle(index fingers and thumbs palm out) raised around forehead level.
2. Warrior/Scholar at chest level
3. Prayer position with fingers at sternum level and close to the body.

There are lots of interpretations as to what they all mean.

09-14-2000, 01:37 AM
Hard punchers, man. I'm not fully informed about what kinds of power training kenpo guys go through, but I sparred with a kenpo buddy of mine just three weeks ago and when he made contact, I felt it!

06-06-2001, 07:06 PM
I am a student of American Kenpo, and I've trained with other styles. My son does TKD. The biggest difference I see in training for power is that in Kenpo we don't just correctly perform a strike, we have to be able to understand and explain all the principles involved. A large part of Kenpo is the study of the science of movement. This study and understanding helps to train and therefore to fight at a somewhat higher level. Your sparring partner didn't do anything that much different than a TKD artist- he just paid attention to the principles of power.

MonkeySlap Too
06-06-2001, 07:34 PM
What is the 'point of origins' argument?

I am a big beleiver in luck. The more I work, the more luck I have.

The Willow Sword
06-09-2001, 09:26 AM

Whatever you think i am or want me to be,,, i am.

06-09-2001, 10:33 PM
Point of Origin

American Kenpo has spend allot of time and effort into developing techniques that deliver a weapon from it's point of origin. Simply put, you launch your weapon from wherever it is at that point.
Think about the inward block. Beginners may step back, bring their from their hip to the outside of their shoulder, and then slam it in.

That **** to the outside to slam in would violate "point of origin". It would be quicker just to slam it in from the hip to the inside.

As you can see, that might have less power. So AK artist look for every situation where your arms and legs might be, and where, from those positions you can deliver your weapons efficiently. That's one of the reasons AK has five or more technqiues for one attack. One for just standing there, one for standing there with your arm up, down, behind you, etc.


If you pr!ck us, do we not bleed? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that the villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. MOV

06-10-2001, 12:44 AM
"And the crowd called out for more"

06-10-2001, 04:18 PM
They edited the word c()ck.

If you pr!ck us, do we not bleed? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that the villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. MOV

06-11-2001, 03:44 AM
That's one thing that some people miss about "traditional" arts, most of the time you're not going to have your hands up in a guard and be in your fighting stance. Sometimes I like to spar from a defensless posture, standing in a T stance with my arms by my side or one hand up at chest level. I'd like to see some good AK, any good tapes?

Adventure is just a romantic name for trouble. It sounds swell when you write about it, but it's hell when you meet it face to face in a dark and lonely place.
Louis L'Amour

MonkeySlap Too
06-11-2001, 10:35 PM
Yeah, thats a good idea. It is actually very common to both the Northern and Southern schools I have been exposed to. How it is trained sounds different, but I'm with you on this.

I am a big beleiver in luck. The more I work, the more luck I have.